Questions about Harmony Essentials from a hobbyist noob

I am a hobbyist artist who wants to move up to making animated shorts. Harmony looks like what I’d want, but I’m very green and have a LOT of questions.

If I purchase Essentials, which seems ideal since I’m a beginner and it’s within my budget, can I use it to make frame by frame 2D animation? By that, I mean can I import drawings I scan into my PC to the Harmony program, or is importing images/drawings only possible with a tablet to directly import the image? I ask because I use a scanner and basic editing software to polish my drawings.

It seems like good software for someone like me who wants to capture the traditional animated look, but could I use it to import one image at a time and then play it together on a timeline to make a fluid animation? I realize I can do more with this software, but starting from the simplest method and working my way up seems better for someone like me. I’d just like to know if this software makes this possible.

Please forgive me for being such a novice, but I am hungry for answers and willing to learn. I eagerly await your feedback.

Since you are a beginner, I would suggest to perhaps have a look at OpenToonz first. OpenToonz is open source (=free). OpenToonz is a serious production level animation tool, and more comparable with Harmony Advanced and Premium, and provides many more functions to work with a paper-based workflow than Harmony Essentials would be able to offer you.

One of OT’s core strengths is import and clean-up of scanned drawings. It has really nice clean-up tools, and easily converts scanned bitmap line art into vector-based drawings, ready for colouring and high-def 4K and 8K output.

I am not saying that Essentials is a bad product, not at all. Just that OpenToonz would save you money, and OT delivers high-level production options that Essentials just can’t hope to compete with (Essentials cannot output beyond 2K video, for example). More importantly, OT introduces you to 2d frame-based animation at no financial cost.
Later, once you have some experience animating, you can always decide to have a secondary look at Harmony Advanced or Premium.

The OT community is also very helpful (as is this one here) to help you on your way.

The latest version of OT can be downloaded here (top one, OpenToonzSetup.exe):

There are quite a lot of Youtube video tutorials available now. Because the OT developer community has grown, development has sped up considerably, and the current latest build may look a bit differently compared to what is shown in the videos (mainly interface aesthetics have improved).

Other documentation:

The drawback is that you will not have “official” support, of course.
Also, Essentials might be an easier introduction to animation software: OT is not hard to learn, but is a big animation app.

You can scan drawings with the option of vectorizing for pure black vector line or with texture to retain colour of grey from original lines. But if you want to also draw directly on the software, bare in mind Essentials only has vector not bitmap tools. Bitmap drawing tools are only available in Advanced and Premium. You can scan a sequence if you have a scanner with autofeed (ADF) and if you use punched paper you can set a process for optical registration so that drawings are perfectly lined-up.

Here’s a comparison of Harmony versions:
(scroll down)

Luis Canau